Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cyprus Immigration update

Two and a half weeks ago, we went to Immigration and made an appointment for today. I explained in that post what our situation is, and why, despite having lived here for 14 years (and owning a house) we need to apply, again, for permits.

They gave us a check-list of documents we needed. We had most of them with us - and the required photocopies - but not everything. So in the intervening time, we sorted out basic medical insurance - time-consuming, and an extra expense we really didn't want, and rather pointless as we already have coverage for hospital care and operations. We got new copies of the deeds of our house and found our marriage certificate. Richard went to the bank and got them to stamp the statements which we print at home, before photocopying again.

This morning Richard had some new passport-style photos done - it's always useful to have some spare - and we printed out the statements we get from the agencies that support us in the work Richard does here.

We arrived at Immigration at 10.45, allowing plenty of time before our 11.00 appointment. We had barely sat down outside before 'Mr Richard' was called, and we went in.

notice outside the Larnaka Immigration offices

The young woman behind the desk was friendly in a reserved kind of way, and spoke very good English. She asked for our passports, marriage certificate, house deeds, and so on - we produced them to show her and handed her the photocopies, and all was going well until we reached the 'proof of income'. We had six months' worth of bank statements, and the evidence of income in the past four months, as well as spreadsheets from last year.

However, there was no 'contract'. No 'proof' that our income will continue. And while she accepted that we own a house, and that we've had sufficient income over the past many years, the yellow slips are 'forever' - and so she can't authorise them without either a contract or evidence of a pension. So we reached an impasse.

'What can we do?' we asked. She shrugged, and said that we could go to Nicosia and talk to an Immigration lady there (she gave us the name) and persuade her that we had enough income to live here, and then if she agreed (and, presumably, stamped something to say so) then everything would be fine. All our other documents were in order.

We said that we didn't really have any way to prove anything. It doesn't even make sense to do so - if we were employed in Cyprus, we might become redundant at any point. I don't see how one can prove anything, income-wise, other than what one has received in the past. But the lady was adamant. She did ask another lady in the same office, and they had quite an animated discussion in Greek - but both were agreed: they had never before come across a case like ours, and did not have the authority to grant a permanent yellow slip. There are no longer any temporary ones available.

Then she said, 'But you are legal anyway. You don't really need a yellow slip; you are Europeans.'

I felt as if my jaw dropped several centimetres.

'But...' we said, 'the papers said that we might be fined...'

She shook her head. 'Don't believe them!' she assured us. 'Nobody will arrest you, there are no fines.'

So we thanked her, and left. Who knows what we should believe. Obviously she didn't tell us in writing that we are legal and don't need yellow slips. But since we do have Alien Registration Cards we're not unregistered. We have a house, we pay car tax (using the ARC number). And we're Europeans....

We're not entirely sure what to do. It's annoying to have taken out extra medical insurance if we didn't need to (we hope, of course, that we won't have any reason to use it) and frustrating to have wasted so much time on gathering the documents together and double-checking that we had all we need, as well as the appointments. Without any further 'evidence' of income, there doesn't seem much point going to Nicosia, only to be refused.

So... our status has not changed. It's encouraging to have been told unofficially that we're living here legally, and it's certainly never caused any problems not having current yellow slips. But it would have been nice to have some closure!


Steve Hayes said...

Oh bureaucracy...

What can one say?

DaisyCrazy said...

My hubby is from Greece so we've been through this procedures. They are right that you are 'legal' and nobody is going to give you any grief for not having a yellow slip.
BUT if you need something that requires a yellow slip then you'll be obliged to get one.
Contact the person they told you in Nicosia and arrange a meeting. I'm sure they'll be able to guide you better.
Good luck!

Sue said...

The thing is, though - we haven't ever had a valid yellow slip. The last pink slip (before EU days) expired around 2004, I think. And we've never needed one. Just having the ARC allows us to do things like pay car tax online. So we're not sure what reason we might ever have for needing a yellow slip!

Evie said...

Hello Sue, I am coming from DaisyCrazy.

I read your story and I suggest, if I may, to get involve the Embassy of the country you are coming from. They should be able to answer to your questions and to help you out with the legalities and the bureaucracy.

Best wishes! Evie

lilegyptiangoddess said...

I agree with Evie, double check with the embassy or consulate. When going through a fairly similar issue it saved me from being deported over Cyprus' mistake.